I’m a completely public-educated person. With the exception of nursery school (ie pre-kindergarten) I went to public schools in Massachusetts and California, and got university degrees in California and Washington from public universities.
When I was somewhere between 4 years old and 8 years old (this era for me blurs a bit), the issue of Japanese Americans being put in internment camps during World War II was explained to me. Specifically, Japanese-Americans I know. My dad was about 5 years old when he got out, his parents were immigrants, and like many folks of my age, I had relatives who went there and some lost all they had. Talk about recession and losing money trying to sell your home – when people know that the government is forcing you out of your house and you are desperate, they know you will take any price. People could only take what you could carry. In those days there were no Xboxes or Nintendos, no big screen TVs, but try if you will to think about what you’d put in your laptop bag and suitcase and wheel down the street to your new home.
So as a kid with a vivid imagination, I imagined all this. The feeling of being singled out, a freak, unwanted and forced to leave my school. Being scared to go somewhere strange and yucky with my family as a kid. Would this kind of thing ever happen to people I knew again? And in these discussions, my mom noted: “Your dad’s family has always valued education because when you are packed off to internment camp, it’s the one thing that can’t be taken from you.”
Education is this amazing, invisible tool. It helps solve problems, create new possibilities, and fits into a laptop sleeve – it fits into any pocket and up any sleeve. When my relatives got out of internment camp, it was education (and freaking hard work) to get back all the physical, economic and social ground they had lost. The video on the REDU site “The Education Crisis in Two Minutes” has a great moving graphic that shows what happens when folks get a good education and can empower themselves in society. That’s why education matters so much. It’s a lever that rights things, helps the downtrodden, brings out solutions to problems.
So REDU is personal to me and I’m personally glad we were able to launch it. Because I got so much of my life and superpowers from public education and it deserves some karmic payback, but also because I know that secret about what education really is. World War II is over but we still have social inequities and societal problems in this country. Education remains as a tool that can’t be taken from the people who have it and they can still use it to change their world.
Live it vivid!